Zen, Dogen and being put off...

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Zen, Dogen and being put off...

Postby Myotai » Thu Dec 19, 2013 9:35 am

Hi,

Spent the last month or so looking into the teachings of Dogen and how they're used by the Soto school. A few things that I have come away with, and in advance these are not meant to offend, merely my personal observations - but I would value your opinions:

1) You are already enlightened, just sitting is Enlightenment nothing more is needed - Huh? I have really struggled to get my head around this and I am afraid I am still utterly lost to its meaning. They say there is no goal and nothing to gain. All aspirations are futile and doomed from the onset. They recommend sitting for sittings sake. Leaves me cold I am afraid.

2) There is almost no mention of anything to do with philosophy. Emptiness is mentioned but never discussed and there is nothing from what I can see that acknowledges the Abhidhamma.

3) I detected a Meme of sorts...I might be wrong but statements like "just be who you are before thought" and "don't sit for anything, just sit"....seemed to be batted round like its something I 'should' have understood. I suggest emptying your mind is something that is not as easy as some of the people I spoke to seemed to think.

4) There is an unshakable belief that the process of sitting on the cushion and doing nothing in particular is different than sitting on the couch and doing nothing in particular. sitting on the cushion is somehow seen as sacred.

5) The biggest impression I left with was questioning whether it was Buddhism at all. There was a thread of Buddhist thought but a monumental absence of anything I am familiar with in the Suttas and an almost exclusive emphasis on Dogen, Hongzhi and so on with a palpable (almost exclusion) of what the Buddha actually taught.


Anyway, like I said, not a critique more observations. I'd appreciate your thoughts and experiences.

M...
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Re: Zen, Dogen and being put off...

Postby Dan74 » Thu Dec 19, 2013 10:18 am

Hi Myotai,

There've been a few threads on this in the past and you might want to check out:

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=43&t=13382

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=41&t=4508

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=41&t=4605

I've sat with Soto groups for some time and I have reservations about how efficacious their method of no method is for most people but there's no doubt in my mind that it can work for some.
_/|\_
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Re: Zen, Dogen and being put off...

Postby James the Giant » Thu Dec 19, 2013 10:40 am

Are you just studying Zen or actively practising it?
I found Zen pretty incomprehensible when reading it cold, but after sitting a Zen retreat and practising a while, it started to make sense.

But I did eventually abandon it, my analytical mind got too pissed off by the excessive crypticness of it all.
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: Zen, Dogen and being put off...

Postby Myotai » Thu Dec 19, 2013 11:40 am

Hi guys,

I have been practicing Silent Illumination for quite sometime - desparatley trying to find a similar practice in Theravada as this tradition is where I feel most at home.

Will check those threads out, but yes James, my analytical mind absolutely will not have any of it :reading:
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Re: Zen, Dogen and being put off...

Postby chownah » Thu Dec 19, 2013 12:09 pm

Number two through five seem pretty ok to me but number one while making some sense as a skillful means for setting a mental mood seems to rely too heavily on the delusional construct of self.

I could say more but it would be just a lot of old stuff rehashed and seems like people are bored with that.
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Re: Zen, Dogen and being put off...

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Dec 19, 2013 12:37 pm

Myotai wrote:Hi,



1) You are already enlightened, just sitting is Enlightenment nothing more is needed
Give us an actual quote.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Zen, Dogen and being put off...

Postby befriend » Thu Dec 19, 2013 3:02 pm

you become the philosophy, doing nothing means just sitting, not just spacing out, it is an alert yet relaxed awareness using correct posture. the focus is on being in the present not worrying about results, because deep down you already are the result. I practiced silent illumination (shikantaza) for one year 1 hour a day. it is samatha and vipassana practiced simultaneously. it leads to the feeling of huge compassion and also deep insights.
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Re: Zen, Dogen and being put off...

Postby kirk5a » Thu Dec 19, 2013 3:09 pm

[Ven. Ananda] But he does know this: 'All those who have been led, are being led, or will be led [to release] from the cosmos have done so, are doing so, or will do so after having abandoned the five hindrances — those defilements of awareness that weaken discernment — having well-established[1] their minds in the four frames of reference, and having developed, as they have come to be, the seven factors for Awakening.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Zen, Dogen and being put off...

Postby Anagarika » Thu Dec 19, 2013 3:50 pm

i
it is samatha and vipassana practiced simultaneously.


I feel you were lucky if you had a Zen teacher instructing this way. Early Chinese Zen did teach the practice of dhyana, a traditional practice which seems to have been long lost after some time in Japan. Though some folks argue that Zen means "dhyana," in truth western Zen has long forgotten Chinese samatha/vipassana.

I spent some time years ago in a zendo with a well known Zen teacher. He taught the same kind of "just sitting" described well by others earlier in this topic. He sometimes stated that vipassana was "aggravating" and that the practice of "silent illumination" involved no insight practice, and that the sitting practice was goalless. I decided to stop trying to pound square pegs into round holes ( ie trying to make Zen work for myself) after hearing one of his senior priests complain, after a daylong "sesshin," that he was "tired of all of this bulls**t sitting and staring at a wall." Probably the best teaching moment I experienced that year.
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Re: Zen, Dogen and being put off...

Postby Myotai » Sat Dec 21, 2013 7:16 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Myotai wrote:Hi,



1) You are already enlightened, just sitting is Enlightenment nothing more is needed
Give us an actual quote.



Sorry Tilt, been really busy here.

Though I think it would be unfair of me to make direct quotes from individuals. Suffice to say that I have heard this said time and time again recently. Also that just sitting is all that is needed and that merely sitting in silence is an embodiment of enlightenment.

M...
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Re: Zen, Dogen and being put off...

Postby Jon. S » Sun Dec 22, 2013 6:03 am

BuddhaSoup wrote:i
it is samatha and vipassana practiced simultaneously.

after hearing one of his senior priests complain, after a daylong "sesshin," that he was "tired of all of this bulls**t sitting and staring at a wall." Probably the best teaching moment I experienced that year.

:jumping:
I was born naked.
My beloved parents
kindly gave me a name.
When I reached twenty
I thought "a name is a chain,
I want to abandon it".
Whoever I questioned
No one answers me.
When I hear the wind in the pines
I get an answer.
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Re: Zen, Dogen and being put off...

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Dec 22, 2013 6:13 am

Myotai wrote:Though I think it would be unfair of me to make direct quotes from individuals. Suffice to say that I have heard this said time and time again recently. Also that just sitting is all that is needed and that merely sitting in silence is an embodiment of enlightenment.

M...
If these are published quotes from Dogen or some modern teacher, it is worth looking at the quote in its fuller context.

Also, I think you are missing something here.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Zen, Dogen and being put off...

Postby seeker242 » Sun Dec 22, 2013 1:54 pm

Myotai wrote:
2) There is almost no mention of anything to do with philosophy. Emptiness is mentioned but never discussed and there is nothing from what I can see that acknowledges the Abhidhamma.



Interesting. I find Soto Zen to be one of the most philosophical zen traditions out there. The Shobogenzo is chock full of philosophy. Among Japanese philosophers, Dogen is held in very high regard. "Just sitting is enlightenment" is not such a simple statement. It has a ton of philosophy behind it. http://www.thezensite.com/ZenEssays/Dog ... sopher.htm

:anjali:
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Re: Zen, Dogen and being put off...

Postby kmath » Mon Dec 23, 2013 2:47 am

Jon. S wrote:
BuddhaSoup wrote:after hearing one of his senior priests complain, after a daylong "sesshin," that he was "tired of all of this bulls**t sitting and staring at a wall." Probably the best teaching moment I experienced that year.

:jumping:


:jumping: indeed. That's hilarious.
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Re: Zen, Dogen and being put off...

Postby drew » Mon Dec 23, 2013 8:51 am

Excellent question. Some of my views.

1) You can not sit without intention. Just sitting involves Effort, Right Effort actually if you are practicing Zen, Dzogchen pure mind or Vipassana correctly.

2) Buddhist practice is not a philosophy but a practical way to experience the Dhamma for yourself, here and now. We just need to do it.

3) Attempting to get somewhere or do something is missing the point. Just observe reality arising and passing away, and see how the experience affects your Heart. Being aware and present with a clear Mind and allowing things to be leads to Liberation. Reacting with desire or aversion leads to Suffering.

4) You can practice anywhere, anytime. Associating Buddhist practice with a cushion is incorrect. Think "Chopping wood, carry water" for a simple Zen guide.

5) Every tradition has it's own cultural overlay. Remember cultural overlays are not Dhamma. Dhamma is in your Heart, look there and see if your are Liberating yourself from Suffering.

Always remember the Seven Factors: Concentration, Mindfulness, Effort, Joy, Loving kindness, Compassion and perhaps most importantly Equanimity. These should be the yardsticks of Dhamma for any practitioner.
The gift of the Dhamma excels all gifts (DP354)
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Re: Zen, Dogen and being put off...

Postby Aloka » Mon Dec 23, 2013 10:12 am

Myotai wrote:Spent the last month or so looking into the teachings of Dogen and how they're used by the Soto school. A few things that I have come away with, and in advance these are not meant to offend, merely my personal observations - but I would value your opinions:



Hi Myotai,

Why not take your queries to Zen Forum International ? There's an "Ask a teacher" forum there with several Zen teachers available to answer questions.

http://www.zenforuminternational.org/

With kind regards,

Aloka
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Re: Zen, Dogen and being put off...

Postby convivium » Tue Dec 24, 2013 6:16 am

dogen is the probably most important buddhist philosopher for westerners to get into. undercuts our whole way of seeking after experiences and sensations, along with the whole instrumental and technological outlook, and ressentiment. opens up the needed realm of communal spirit and focal practices. really the most profound and relevant buddhist thinker for our times.
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
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Re: Zen, Dogen and being put off...

Postby m0rl0ck » Tue Dec 24, 2013 9:17 pm

Truth is perfect and complete in itself. It is not something newly discovered; it has always existed. Truth is not far away. It is nearer than near. There is no need to attain it, since not one of your steps leads away from it. Don’t follow the advise of others; rather, learn to listen to the voice within yourself. Your body and mind will become one, and you will realise the unity of all things. Even the slightest movement of your conceptual thought will prevent you from entering the palace of wisdom. The Buddha meditated for six years; Bodhidharma for nine. If such effort was required of these ancient Masters, how much more is required of you. Your search among books, sifting and shuffling through other people’s words, may lead you to the depths of knowledge, but it cannot help you to see the reflection of your true self. When you have thrown away all conceptions of mind and body, the original person will appear, in all his fullness. To obtain the inestimable benefits of meditation, you should first make a firm decision to practice everyday.

Your meditation room should be clean and quiet. Wear loose clothing and remove your shoes. Sit on a cushion, with legs crossed, in as comfortable a manner as possible. Keep your back straight. Don’t lean to the left or right; don’t tip forward or bend back. ……Breathe through your nostrils. Before you begin meditation, take several slow, deep breaths. Hold your body erect, allowing your breathing to become normal again. Many thoughts will crowd into your mind. Don’t dwell on thoughts of good or bad. Don’t desire to attain enlightenment. Let thoughts come and go, without getting involved in them or trying to suppress them. Think the unthinkable. In other words think no-thinking. Meditation is not a way to enlightenment, nor is it a method of achieving anything at all. It is peace and blessedness itself. It is the actualisation of wisdom, the ultimate truth of oneness with all things. In your meditation, you yourself are the mirror reflecting the solutions to your problems. The human mind has absolute freedom within its true nature. You can attain freedom intuitively. Don’t work toward freedom; but allow the work itself to be freedom. When you want to rest, move your body slowly, and quietly stand up. Practice this meditation in the morning or in the evening, or at any leisure time during the day.


http://www.goldcoastyogacentre.com/welcome/page71.php

Actually i think the idea that just sitting is enlightenment came from the above passage. The bolding is mine.
I have been a student of zen/chan for about 20 years, its been worth the effort, and in some small way i think i may at times approach the ideal of "just sitting" as outlined in the above quote.
If you are going to get some understanding of zen, or any tradition for that matter, you will need longer than a month and should probably contact a teacher of that tradition. If you are looking for a zen / chan teacher i would look for one that uses both rinzai and soto techniques. I have read that many of the great teachers, including dogen, used both kinds of methods.

EDIT: Thank you to the OP for inspiring me to look this up, i havent read it in a while and its one of my favorites :)

EDIT: i actually like this translation better http://www.dailyzen.com/zen/zen_reading0401.asp
There is no comfort without pain; thus
we define salvation through suffering.
-- Cato
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Re: Zen, Dogen and being put off...

Postby convivium » Sun Feb 16, 2014 11:37 pm

what madhyamaka does i think is allow for the inversion of the mundane/transcendental... just how N inverted the suprasensory/becoming... what schopenhauer had in mind with 'positive nothingness' and what heidegger had in mind with conealment/unconcealment for the completion of nietzsche's aforementioned overturning of metaphysics is tightly knit with what dogen does. the idea of instant enlightenment is working within the madhyamaka, heraclitean, heideggerean etc. paradigm of language as the house of being; dogen says 'those who are enlightened are not deluded about enlightenment; those that aren't are deluded about enlightenment'. you should check out heine's book 'existential and ontological dimensions of time...'
Just keep breathing in and out like this. Don't be interested in anything else. It doesn't matter even if someone is standing on their head with their ass in the air. Don't pay it any attention. Just stay with the in-breath and the out-breath. Concentrate your awareness on the breath. Just keep doing it. http://www.ajahnchah.org/book/Just_Do_It_1_2.php
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Re: Zen, Dogen and being put off...

Postby waterchan » Mon Feb 17, 2014 3:36 am

tiltbillings wrote:Give us an actual quote.

He wasn't a monk, but wasn't it Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki who used the Zen Buddhist concept of emptiness to justify Japan's militaristic expansion efforts in the 1940's?

His reasoning went along the lines of: once you reach enlightenment, you find that there's no self, and so whatever action you commit, ethically pure or not, is not yours. So when you kill someone, it's not you who's doing the killing. Rather, at some point during the cosmic dance of the knife, your enemy's face just happens to fall on its tip.

:D
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur
(Anything in Latin sounds profound.)
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